The return of the old production of Puccini’s “Tosca” on the repertoire of the G.N.O was imminent. It was after all one of the most successful productions by the very talented Nikos Petropoulos who opted for a film noire aesthetic approach to Puccini’s “horror” masterpiece. The whole set transferred from the small “Olympia” Theater to the Athens Concert Hall at the huge stage of the “Trianti” Auditorium, finally breathed and expanded, looking very impressing and imposing. As mentioned the whole black and white expressionistic approach reminded one of the films of the 20’s especially the prison set at the last act. It was aesthetically pleasing and the whole production was of a very high level, N.Petropoulos’s magic wand transferred the audience to an enchanting world.
On the vocal level, things were somehow uneven. The first night cast (16/1/11) was led by the soprano T.Caruso who’s lyrico-spinto voice seemed to be taxed by the role of Tosca. The voice sounded at times strained and nervous, but she sailed through the evening with moments of great beauty and expressive dramatic singing. Stuart Neil in his second appearance in Athens, after Radames two years ago, sang with fervor and a rounded strong voice an excellent Cavaradossi, he was the delight of the evening. The young Greek Bass Dimitris Platanias was a vocally very good Scarpia, his voice is developing into a timbre of Wagnerian quality, and one hopes that he will develop his abilities accordingly.
The second cast (18/1) was an altogether different cup of tea. One felt that he was listening to a completely new performance. I tend to believe that this particular performance will remain in the Annals of the Greek national opera , and rightly so. Celia.Costea sang the title role with a beautiful sensuous voice in total command of the music, with an even lyrical voice.Her performance was a true revelation and at the moment of her famous aria she brought tears to the eyes of the audience.
R.Pelizzari’s Cavaradossi was sensitive yet courageous and brave (his voice reminded one of the young Carreras), and A.Gazzale’s Scarpia was , regal and immediately from his first entrance onstage imposed himself as a sensuous, dangerously charming, and the hero’s perverted character was instantly established. His performance was on a vocal and dramatic level, exemplary. It was obvious that the second cast was much more rehearsed than the previous one since everybody, even the secondary roles were worked out in great detail. The Orchestra and Chorus of the G.N.O were led by the sure and steady hand of maestro Loukas Karytinos, who underlined the score’s lyrical and dramatic passages with great skill.